Booth backs decision over Bahrain GP

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MARUSSIA Virgin Racing team principal and sporting director John Booth reckons the postponement of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was the “appropriate course of action”.

The race was called off 48 hours ago because of the ongoing political unrest in the Gulf state.

All Formula One teams were set to complete their winter testing at Bahrain’s Sakhir Circuit between March 3-6 before participating in the grand prix the following weekend.

But, in the wake of the political upheaval in the country that led to deaths of six anti-government protestors last week and many hundreds injured, the race has been called off. It could still be rescheduled for later in 2011.

The F1 season will now get underway in Australia on March 27.

“The Bahrain Grand Prix is an important event on the F1 calendar and as the scene of our team’s racing debut a little under 12 months ago, we have extremely fond memories of Bahrain and were looking forward to returning there for this year’s season opening race,” said Rotherham-born Booth.

“However, it is with great sadness that we have watched events unfolding there over the past week and it is quite clear that there are far bigger matters at stake than whether a major sporting event can take place.

“Withdrawing from hosting the race at this time was the appropriate course of action and we fully support the decision. We hope that the current unrest in Bahrain can be brought to a peaceful conclusion.”

Booth said the Dinnington-based team will take part in the final pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on March 8-11 before heading to Australia.

New Virgin driver Jerome d’Ambrosio added: “The only thing we can say is that it’s sad to see what is happening there. It’s not nice to see such a thing happen.”

A gearbox problem hindered d’Ambrosio’s pre-season test in Barcelona on Monday. The issue confined the Belgian to the garage and meant he could only complete 50 laps.

“It was a shame not to have more time in the car, but I have to say that I’m happy with my last test day in Barcelona,” said d’Ambrosio. “The car has improved a lot if we compare it to the first day of testing, and that is a good sign.

“The immediate focus will be working through all the data we have gathered and I’ll be spending time in the simulator later this week to ensure we keep moving forward.”

Despite the reliability problem, Booth insisted the test was “extremely productive” and that the team will address their deficiencies.